A person who says” no” gets our attention. We aren’t familiar with hearing someone say that they will not do something. We wonder how someone can turn down accepting good things if they don’t agree with their value system. Sometimes we are even frustrated that the person who says no dares to decline priorities that have been created for them by other people. “How selfish of them,” we assume.
Many of us are a part of the “yes” community. We overcommit to good things frequently. We feel that if we say no that we are bad individuals or that other people will question our heart. We struggle with public opinion and always want to put our “best foot” forward even when we have given out more than we have in our reserves. If this resonates with you, when is the last time you said no?
As hard as this truth may be to swallow, it’s vital. As I’ve been looking at rest in my own life, I realize I have the habit of overcommitting to things. Deep down, I know that I can only complete a set number of projects, maintain a certain number of relationships, and then I need plenty of space to be unavailable. Yes, unavailable to recharge, to reflect, and to make sure that I continue to serve from a healthy space.
Jesus understood the value of boundaries by saying that He doesn’t put anything ill-fitting on us. He doesn’t push us past our limits, and He even encourages us to come to Him for rest. People on the other hand struggle with the idea of boundaries.
Unknowingly (and sometimes knowingly) we:
Allow other people to place unreasonable expectations on us.
Sacrifice our needs for the needs of others.
Avoid our limitations and allow others to determine when our no is appropriate.
Relationships can be tricky, and there is a lot to learn. In relationships, we learn a lot about others, but we learn more about ourselves. If we forgo our needs to make sure that the needs of others are attended to, we aren’t respecting our boundaries. We are operating outside of the grace God has given us and outside of His plan for our lives. It will only be a matter of time before we face burnout and we will be forced to rest.
This past Saturday, I was intentional about my weekend goals. I’ve decided that my Saturdays are dedicated to family time and relaxation. I wrote down the following tasks that I wanted to get done:
Take a walk.
Read a book.
Finalize a project.
The remainder of the weekend was spent enjoying life and the blessings God has afforded me.
At first, I felt guilty because I noticed my phone and inbox buzzing with requests. I screened my phone calls and prioritized those that needed immediate attention versus those that would be draining.
When I operated according to my values, I felt much more rested. Instead of going through the motions of life, I experienced it! I also realized how tired I had become and how the lack of rest was impacting my effectiveness.
I came to grips that saying “yes” too much led to the following results:
I was serving people with a sleep deficit. No wonder I had become grouchy.
I was afraid of setting firm boundaries because being available is all that I know.
I was too scared to offend others by addressing my needs for the day.
I was afraid of what might happen if I weren’t available 24/7.
Were there some people who might have been frustrated that I didn’t pick up my phone on the first ring? Probably. Were there people who might have wondered why the sudden change in availability? Probably. If we base our life on the approval or understanding of other people, we will never learn to appreciate how God designed our lives and how to work within the grace space He has given us. If it has been a while since you’ve said no, ask yourself why. Saying no to things (even good things) allows us the space we need to refuel and be available to the right experiences.
Questions to Ponder this Week:
Why are you afraid to say no?
List some areas where you have overcommitted yourself?
Select one day that is just for you this week. What would you like to do?
Think about the difference taking a break does in your physical and emotional health. What changes have you noticed in yourself?